Jesus says in our Gospel today, "You are my friends if you do what I command you." We don't normally associate friendship with following commandments. If you demanded that another person always do what you told him to do in order to be friends, I'm sure the other person would not want to pursue a friendship with you. However that is our Lord's definition of friendship as he said in the Gospel.
When Jesus tells us that if we truly love him that we’re supposed to follow his commandments, it’s not just some meaningless set of rules that we blindly follow. Whatever God expects us to do, whatever He tells us, it’s always motivated by His love for us. God is Love – and everything He does is Love, and wanting us to follow His commandments is meant for us to experience more deeply God’s love for us.
And what is it that he commands? Again from our Gospel today, "This is my commandment: love one another as I love you." To love like God loves, not just the ones that we want to love, but also our enemies. To forgive like God forgives, no matter the countless times we have to give it. To pursue what is good, right and just. To be a gift of self to others.
Authentic friendship with God and with others is when we can live out this commandment, loving in the same manner as God, loving with the same Sacred Heart of Jesus. When understood in that way, then we can see how friendship and following commandments can actually go together.
Father Adam Park grew up in the Washington, DC area. He discovered his vocation to the priesthood while on retreat during his senior year in high school. Being ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Washington, he has served in different assignments throughout the archdiocese.